Nasa has captured images of mysterious crack in one of Greenland’s biggest glaciers. The Greenland's Petermann Glacier connects the Greenland ice sheet to the Arctic Ocean.
Reports indicate that the new rift is relatively close to another wider and longer crack, which has been slowly making its way toward the center of the glacier from its eastern side wall. The movement has raised concerns about the possibility that part of the ice shelf is splintering off into the ocean.
Nasa captured images that show that the new crack has appeared at the center of the glacier's floating ice sheet. The unusual location has raised concerns over how it was formed.
Operation IceBridge, which is Nasa’s airborne mission captured the images of the new rift on Friday, April 14. The discovery was first made by Stef Lhermitte, a professor at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Lhermitte recognized the unusually located crack in satellite images and issued coordinates to Nasa.
Reports from the Washington Post indicated that if the two rifts intersect, it could result in a single massive break that could eventually shatter it. Fortunately, that can be prevented from happening with the help of a medial flow line. Operation IceBridge scientists revealed that a medial flow may have a stagnating effect on the new crack. Implying that its advancement towards the earlier rift may be halted or slowed.
The scientist also pointed out that satellite time series images revealed that the new crack has been growing since July 2016. However, scientists are yet to establish the specific cause of the new rift to form. Lhermitte insinuated that a phenomenon known as ocean forcing may have been the cause of the formation of the new crack.Ocean forcing takes place when warm ocean waters melt the ice from beneath.
The IceBridge operation from Nasa is responsible for collecting documents data from Greenland and Antarctica by flying instrumented aircraft over the ice at both poles. The operation seeks to understand how the environment is changing at the poles. The latest data collected will be used by scientists to understand what caused the latest crack in the Petermann Glacier.